Marvel's Eternals: Salma Hayek Reacts To Gender-Bent Superhero Role

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By Russ Milheim

Back in the day, people would be hard-pressed to find anybody that knew who the Guardians of the Galaxy were. A talking tree and a raccoon certainly weren't the topic of many conversations. Cut to today, and most people will know exactly who Rocket and Groot are. 

This is all because Marvel took a huge risk with 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, and it paid off by not only pulling the team from obscurity but also rocketing them to the very top of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was a hit, and Marvel got themselves a new blockbuster franchise. As of November later this year, Marvel is looking to make that move again. 

On November 5, Eternals will finally be released for the world to see after a year-long delay. The movie is a highly-anticipated one and is set to launch the new otherworldly team of god-like beings into worldwide popularity. Though, some won't look all that similar to that of their comic counterparts.

Among the reasons for that is Marvel's decision to gender-bend some of the team's key members. Among them is Salma Hayek's Ajak. 

SALMA HAYEK, THE ETERNAL

Salma Hayek Eternals Superhero
Marvel

In an interview with Variety, Salma Hayek was able to talk about her upcoming role as Ajak in Marvel’s Eternals.

"It never crossed my mind to be in a Marvel movie. I guess that I thought that boat had sailed, and it was an absolute shock. All of a sudden, I got a call: “They want to talk to you about a new franchise.” And I was like, “What?” And I said OK, but they don’t tell you any information until you’re on the call." 

Hayek went on to candidly say that “It’s kind of hard to be an action hero,” and just why that’s the case:

“It’s kind of hard to be an action hero if you’re Mexican. It’s really hard to be an action hero if you’re a Mexican and a woman. But to be an action hero, being Mexican, a woman, and my age, it felt like they were punking me.” 

According to Hayek though, that wasn’t the worst part. Not only was she “one of the first people cast,” but she “couldn’t tell a soul:”

“And then the worst part is that I was one of the first people they cast. I had to keep my mouth shut for so many months. I couldn’t tell a soul. And I couldn’t wait for the day that I could say it.”

Of course, the day came when Marvel Studios finally pulled back the curtain and announced to the world that Hayek would be bringing to life Ajak, one of the Eternals. 

Hayek was quick to Instagram, proclaiming “It used to be the father of all Eternals, but girls, this is OUR time!”

“It was hard to believe, so when it happens to you it’s important that you pass it on and say, “Yes, it’s happening. It’s really, really happening.” 

The role of Ajak in the comics was originally male—the gender-bent change being a surprise to many. But Marvel took the jump and chose to make that change so that Hayek could have the privilege of bringing the otherworldly character to life.

These big steps for women aren’t occurring as often as they should though. According to Hayek, she is “in a great place now, but I have experienced suffering.”

“My husband is very feminist, and he does a lot of studies on this. I remember a long time ago that he told me that women have a harder time asking for a promotion or for a raise. They really try to justify it. Men normally ask for it prematurely. It has to do with self-esteem and with systematic and constant sexism. It takes women a lot of courage to ask. They’re afraid they’re going to get fired. So if it’s going well for you, if you see the change, it’s good to say that it is happening for us. I know that it’s not happening for every woman, but it gave me courage when I saw it happening for other women, even if it was not happening to me. I’m in a great place now, but I have experienced suffering.” 

Hayek went on to admit that she chooses not to talk about all of that because she likes “to stay positive.”

“I choose not to talk about it because I like to stay positive. When people see me, and not just girls, minorities or even short people — anybody — I want them to think even if things don’t look like they can happen, anything can happen. But I don’t want it to be based on you have to suffer a lot and then eventually it’s going to happen. I want it to be based on why not?”

THE ETERNAL FUTURE

With how obscure the comic counterparts of the characters are, these drastic changes to the source material were always unlikely to bring forth any ire from fans. In fact, many fans are very much looking forward to the film. This is especially the case following the film's director, Chloé Zhao, having just won an Oscar for her work on Nomadland.

Unsurprisingly, that win alone has launched Eternals into being an early frontrunner for the Oscars next year. Even before Zhao's win, there had been many reports of how blown away Marvel is with what they have on their plate. So, there is certainly some pressure mounting for Marvel to deliver come November, especially if their plans for a sequel are true.

Fans only just recently got their first official look at the film thanks to a recent hype video released by Marvel Studios. Hopefully, the wait won't be long for a full trailer to be properly released—especially as the teaser trailer has been rumored to have been done and ready to show since March of last year.

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